Film Festivals Face a #MeToo Dilemma: Should Accused Harassers Be Banned?

Cinefamily head Hadrian Belove attended last month’s SXSW after being hit by sexual abuse allegations, stirring up emotions and unnerving attendees. It won’t be the last time.

At this year’s SXSW Film Festival, there was at least one attendee who made some people uncomfortable. Ousted Cinefamily owner Hadrian Belove came to Austin with a SXSW badge, six months after allegations of sexual abuse and harassment led to his departure from the Los Angeles independent cinema he founded.

No one suggested Belove did anything wrong at SXSW, but several women told IndieWire they thought his alleged transgressions provided reason enough to expel him. Lee Jameson, a longtime Cinefamily member and a former volunteer, tweeted March 14:  “how can @sxsw claim to support and focus on tackling sexual harassment issues this year and still allow someone like Hadrian Belove to be an accredited attendee and make women feel unsafe?”

As the film community approaches the Tribeca Film Festival, Cannes, and other major film events to come this year, it’s an issue that’s bound to come up in the wake of #MeToo: What happens when accused harrasers resurface in the film community — and what responsibility, if any, do organizers have to control that inevitability?

Freelance critic Monica Castillo, who writes for women-centric site The Lily and also tweeted about Belove’s attendance, was concerned that some of Belove’s alleged victims, many of them still active in the film community, might have unexpectedly encountered him. “Some of the people he may have hurt might of been in attendance,” she said. “How must they feel about seeing him in line or at an SXSW-sponsored event?”

Belove is one of several controversial figures in the independent film world. Former Birth.Movies.Death. editor-in-chief Devin Faraci, who left the Alamo Drafthouse in late 2016 amid sexual assault allegations, quietly started a new film blog. Alamo Drafthouse associate and Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles announced a temporary departure from his site last fall after multiple women accused him of harrassment and assault, although he’s rumored to still write on the site under an alternate byline.

Read More: Alamo Drafthouse Has Minimized Sexual Assault and Harassment Allegations for Decades — Report

In the fallout, many film organizations have taken steps to protect themselves and their audiences. According to several people with knowledge of the theater chain’s operations, Knowles has been barred from Austin locations of Alamo Drafthouse, which announced its own code of conduct in January. Its affiliated Fantastic Fest revealed a new, female-led board of directors in November with the express goal “to further enhance and refine the experience of the festival and to provide the best, most open and inclusive environment for our family of film-loving fanatics.”

Before this year’s festival, Sundance added both a new code of conduct and a 24-hour safety hotline for concerned attendees or actual victims. Tribeca now has a slightly revised code of conduct that reads, in part: “Tribeca is dedicated to providing an enjoyable, respectful and harassment-free experience for all attendees. We do not condone discrimination, sexism or abusive language and behavior that is degrading to another person or group.” This year’s festival will also play home to the first large-scale New York event from the team behind Time’s Up, with a full day of events and discussions scheduled for its NYC hub.

SXSW has its own code of conduct, which asserts that “SXSW is not a place for behavior that is intentionally inappropriate, off-topic, disruptive, or abusive.” The code also notes that “SXSW may take action in its discretion to address any individual(s) or group(s) it believes fail to meet the standards set forth in this Code of Conduct, including but not limited to revoking the violating parties’ credentials without refund.” A SXSW Attendee Safety Advice guide is also available.

harvey sundance

Harvey Weinstein at the Sundance Film Festival

Shutterstock

Of course, a code of conduct is nothing without action and information to back it up. Castillo believes the onus for ensuring a comfortable environment for attendees rests on the institution.

“I refuse to believe they don’t have a ‘do not allow’ list in the festival that blocks unwanted guests and troublemakers,” she said. “How hard is it to keep up with the trades and find out who you might not feel comfortable admitting into your festival?”

While it might be a tall order to expect SXSW and other events like it to regulate the list of thousands of people who chase badges at the for-profit event, it’s even dicier territory for an event to maintain and enforce a blacklist.

Alison Wilkey, director of public policy at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Prisoner Reentry Institute, said that a private event has the “complete authority or discretion to admit anyone or deny admission to the festival as long as they’re not doing it based on a protected characteristic, so as long as it’s not race-based or gender-based, or based on disability, all the protected classes.”

However, Wilkey expressed serious concern over private events using their own criteria to keep out people, particularly those who have yet to be charged or convicted with crimes. “I can also see how that could be completely abused,” Wilkey said. “You could think about all kinds of ways that they could deny people based on allegations or based on their own personal beliefs about certain kinds of people that don’t rise to the level of protected discrimination.”

Wilkey also cautioned that criminal background checks, floated by some as a possible way to weed out attendees with criminal backgrounds, are expensive and don’t always provide the best or most accurate information. “The criminal-records databases, even when they’re government-based or government-run, are rife with errors,” she said. “There have been numerous lawsuits against these companies for reporting incorrect information because they don’t check their information. To think that a festival would be making some kind of a determination based on records that are incomplete, and without giving the person the ability to actually challenge that record, is incredibly problematic.”

Jameson, who has worked at film festivals in Los Angeles for years, says some “do take a stand and have told abusers ‘you are no longer welcome in this space.’ It’s at their discretion to keep out patrons or guests that have a history of abuse or make other paying attendees feel uncomfortable or unsafe. The challenge is developing a system for communication with the ticketing staff, as they may not be aware of red flags when distributing credentials. At the very least, when attendees band together and voice concern, like they did at SXSW this year, festivals should listen and take action to keep their event a safe, welcoming space for everyone.”

SXSW public relations head Jody Arlington declined to clarify whether Belove purchased the badge or registered for accreditation himself. “We learned via Twitter that Hadrian Belove was a registered attendant,” Arlington wrote in an email. “Safety is a top priority at SXSW and creating a secure and inclusive environment is of paramount importance. We reached out to Belove and received no response.” Belove did not respond to a request for comment.

Castillo hopes that the festival will speak out about the incident, and use it as a way to reestablish their aims. “Ideally, I would like some sort of a statement and gesture/plan of action that would let us know in the film, music, and tech communities that people who abuse others are not welcome at SXSW,” she said.

And sometimes, a complex issue can be rendered simple. Late last year, Sundance director John Cooper was asked by the Salt Lake Tribune if Harvey Weinstein would be welcome back should he ever apply for credentials again. “Harvey has been a fixture at Sundance for years,” Cooper said. “Is he still welcome? He is not.”

At the April 12 press conference announcing the lineup for the Cannes Film Festival, artistic director Thierry Fremaux also addressed Weinstein, saying that the festival “will never be the same” in the wake of revelations about the mogul’s behavior, but did not discuss whether he would be invited back.

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Newly-Launched Fairfax Theater Will Take Over Silent Movie Theatre from Cinefamily — Report

A Cinefamily co-founder filed paperwork for the new corporate entity before that non-profit’s closure was officially announced, a result of sexual harassment allegations.

On Los Angeles’s Fairfax Avenue, the Silent Movie Theatre will reportedly soon have a new tenant: Fairfax Theater, LLC. Cinefamily — a pulse point in the Southern California film community that showcased arthouse fare — operated the space for 10 years prior to August 2017, when its activities were suspended after sexual harassment allegations prompted resignations from executive director Hadrian Belove (a co-founder) and board member Shadie Elnashai.

According to Cinefamily Accountability — a website founded by longtime Cinefamily patron Jon Zerolnick — the fledgling Fairfax Theater was established in October by Cinefamily co-founder and former treasurer Dan Harkham, who had the foresight then to know that Cinefamily would permanently close, a fact locals learned the following month. Pre-scandal, Cinefamily’s Board of Directors included well-known industry personalities like Amazon Original Movies head of production Ted Hope, and “The LEGO Movie” co-writer/director Phil Lord.  Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson was a member of its advisory board, and also a co-founder of the organization’s Women of Cinefamily subset (all three left on their own accord).

Since 2006, Harkham and his brother, Sammy, have owned the Silent Movie Theatre, an independent venue that seemed passé to some when it debuted in 1942, well into the talkies era. It is unknown whether Harkham will also operate Fairfax Theater without partners, as a successive non-profit. Cinefamily Accountability confirmed that Belove will have “absolutely nothing to do” with this venture, although participating Cinefamily veterans may include former programmers Tom Fitzgerald and Marcus Herring.

This post has been updated. 

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Cinefamily Permanently Shuts Down After Sexual Harassment Allegations

Los Angeles-based movie venue Cinefamily has announced that it will permanently close in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations that led to the exit of executives Hadrian Belove and Shadie Elnashai.
The news comes after the popular venue suspended all its activities in August after the scandal hit. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Cinefamily board of directors made the decision to shutter the organization and dissolve the board.
“The damage caused to the…

Los Angeles-based movie venue Cinefamily has announced that it will permanently close in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations that led to the exit of executives Hadrian Belove and Shadie Elnashai. The news comes after the popular venue suspended all its activities in August after the scandal hit. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Cinefamily board of directors made the decision to shutter the organization and dissolve the board. "The damage caused to the…

Cinefamily Closes For Good, Permanently Tarnished by Sexual Harassment Allegations and Debt

The decade-old non-profit cinematheque will not return to Hollywood’s Fairfax Avenue.

Cinefamily’s temporary closure is now permanent. Following the August resignations of executive director Hadrian Belove and board member Shadie Elnashai amid sexual harassment allegations, the nonprofit West Hollywood theater will not reopen, concluding a 10-year run.

A statement posted November 14 on its website states that the decision was the result of a months-long independent investigation. “While no victims emerged to corroborate the allegation of rape widely circulated in an anonymous email, the investigation identified serious concerns, including breaches of acceptable behavior alleged to have happened at Cinefamily offices and events; a climate that discouraged employees and volunteers from reporting distressing workplace incidents and/or made them feel unheard if they did so; and critical lapses in communication from the executive management and the board,” the statement reads. “We feel strongly that we have made the right decision.”

The statement also references Cinefamily’s “crippling debt,” which combined with the reputation-destroying allegations to form the “irreparable” final blow. A transition team will help the organization tie up all loose legal and monetary matters as it departs Fairfax Avenue’s Silent Movie Theatre, which the landlord will renovate.

Until recently, the board included Ted Hope, head of production at Amazon Original Movies; “The Lego Movie” co-writer and co-director Phil Lord; and “21 Jump Street” scribe Michael Bacall. Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson, who co-founded Women of Cinefamily, exited the board August 23.

When it was established in 1942, the Silent Movie Theatre was a perplexing addition to the Hollywood independent theater scene since it arrived 15 years after films began featuring sound. Nonetheless, it became one of the city’s best-attended arthouse venues.

At least one recurring block of Cinefamily programming will return elsewhere: La Collectioneuse, a monthly “cinematic saloon”  for Francophiles, will bring a dance party and Philippe Puicouyoul’s 1981 feature “The Brunette and I” to Zebulon next Wednesday, November 22.

Read the full statement from Cinefamily below.

 


 

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Cinefamily to Permanently Shut Down Following Sexual Harassment Scandal

Los Angeles independent film venue Cinefamily will permanently shut down and dissolve the board following allegations of sexual misconduct made against some of Cinefamily’s executives in August that led to two resignations from the company. Silent Movie Theater, Cinefamily’s longtime home, will be closed and renovated by the landlord, while the board will establish a transition team […]

Los Angeles independent film venue Cinefamily will permanently shut down and dissolve the board following allegations of sexual misconduct made against some of Cinefamily’s executives in August that led to two resignations from the company. Silent Movie Theater, Cinefamily’s longtime home, will be closed and renovated by the landlord, while the board will establish a transition team […]

Before Weinstein: The Times’ Sexual Harassment Timeline Should Include Austin and Cinefamily Scandals

The New York Times story about Harvey Weinstein may have instigated a sea change, but it’s important to acknowledge that the timeline goes back to much earlier this year.

By most estimations, The New York Times’ initial reporting on Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual harassment changed everything. That perspective includes the Times, which published a timeline on November 11 called “After Weinstein: A List of Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct and the Fallout for Each,” detailing the public outcry surrounding a range of public figures who have faced varying degrees of repercussions for their abhorrent treatment of women and men in recent weeks.

It’s a curious framing device, particular with regard to its start. While Weinstein may have been the tipping point, there was a palpable drum roll leading to his downfall.

From a broader cultural standpoint, the backlash against powerful men doing terrible things started with Hannibal Burress’ tossed-off remarks about Bill Cosby, and the ensuing process through which Cosby was shunned by the industry; later, the business threats to Fox News following reporting about years of sexual misconduct by Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly ushered along a similar process of estrangement.

Weinstein’s behavior epitomizes the death of Hollywood’s “casting couch” era, while simultaneously messaging that the independent film community was in desperate need of redefining its image. The Times played a critical role in stimulating that reality check, but starting the timeline with Weinstein ignores that the community began wrestling with these issues at a much earlier point. Ignoring these developments threatens to erase their ongoing relevance as the independent film community struggles to improve its standards.

In August, news broke that Cinefamily co-founder Hadrian Belove had engaged in countless acts of sexual misconduct with staffers at the funky L.A. arthouse over the years — hitting on, dating, and verbally degrading female staffers, all under the assumption that the theater’s casual environment meant a breakdown in traditional standards of decency.

Belove tried to make the case that disgruntled staffers were trying to take him out, but — in a notable foreshadowing of the swift Weinstein fallout two months away — the repercussions unfolded with rapid-fire justice: The board forced Belove to resign as more women came forward with allegations, and those with longstanding relationships to Cinefamily (including Brie Larson, who co-founded the “Women of Cinefamily” initiative) publicly denounced Belove’s behavior while offering support to the victims. The institution itself has been effectively shut down.

Hadrian Belove

Daniel Bergeron

This snowball effect provided an instant reality check for a scene that steeped its identity in raucous gatherings and film screenings forged out of a mutual interest in DIY, anti-Hollywood exhibition. Suddenly, film festivals and independent art houses seemed less like sacred ground for hipsters and cinema purists and more like a giant liability.

From there, it only got worse: In 2016, the midst of a presidential campaign in which the winning candidate was caught on tape confessing sexual assault, longtime film writer Devin Faraci was accused of behavior in a similar vein and promptly stepped down from his position running the film publication Birth.Movies.Death. About a year later, it was revealed that the site’s publisher, the Alamo Drafthouse, continued to pay Faraci for copyediting work involving its genre festival, Fantastic Fest.

The online fury yielded a series of swift responses: Faraci stepped down (again), and Drafthouse co-founder Tim League stumbled through a series of half-formed apologies before launching on a tour of his theaters around the country to regain his staff’s trust. Meanwhile, Fantastic Fest took off under duress, a key programmer stepped down, and its dudes-and-drinks vibe came under fire for enabling reckless behavior under the auspices of a fun-loving genre festival where likeminded movie geeks just like to party. Rather than face a queasy storm of bad publicity, Fox Searchlight pulled its “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” from the lineup.

Then came the real tipping point: Fantastic Fest co-founder and Ain’t It Cool News proprietor Harry Knowles, arguably the most famous film geek on the planet, faced accusations of sexually assaulting women in the Austin area and in private Twitter messages for years.

Again, the Drafthouse was implicated for not taking action when victims reported Knowles’ behavior, but it’s safe to say nobody except Knowles himself knew just how appalling the situation had become. Here was an amateur journalist high on his fame and exploiting his niche in plain sight.

Anticipating these stories, Fantastic Fest cut ties with Ain’t It Cool News as a sponsor, and the Drafthouse issued a statement that it would no longer have any affiliation with Knowles, who said he would step aside from running his flailing site and hand the reins to his sister, Dani. Several longtime writers quit. The site’s famed talkback section was shut down. Knowles vanished into the bubble of his Twitter feed.

HARRY KNOWLES Harry Knowles poses at his home, in Austin, Texas. From his home, Knowles runs Ain't it Cool News, an Internet web site loaded with inside information about the latest projects in Hollywood, breaking news about casting and offering early reviews of movies being shot and others in the writing stagesHARRY KNOWLES, AUSTIN, USA

Harry Knowles in Austin, 1997

CABLUCK/AP/REX/Shutterstock

At Fantastic Fest, women mobilized for group discussions about how to take a stand against sexual assault in a world they wanted to steer in a better direction, rather than watch burn to the ground. There was a strong desire for the independent film world to survive and do better. Women and their male allies started to wrestle with the notion of a more-responsible infrastructure to sustain this passionate crowd drawn together by a mutual love for movies beyond studio-system constraints.

And then, a few weeks later, the Weinstein story dropped. However, anyone who relies on the New York Times’ news updates would have viewed it as a solitary wakeup call. There was no indication that the earlier events transpired, or that the personal and professional functions of a creative network were already in the midst of a reckoning.

In the days and weeks since the Weinstein news became a global phenomenon, I have heard more than one person suggest that it provided welcome cover to others in the film world under attack. In the last month, few have mentioned Belove, the Drafthouse, or Knowles; everyone’s talking about Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, and Louis C.K. The Times’ “After Weinstein” feature, which promises ongoing updates, effectively erases them from this narrative.

This is not meant to diminish the extraordinary, months-in-the-making efforts led by Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, who underwent the painstaking challenges of convincing victims to go on the record about Weinstein’s abuses. In a widely circulated tweet, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait called the reporters’ work “one of the most socially influential pieces of reporting in U.S. history,” and he may be right: Only the Times could push these issues into a broader arena of social consciousness and embolden hundreds of victims to come forward about sexual assault. The #MeToo phenomenon and the dozens of sexual predators under fire would almost certainly never face such immediate scrutiny without the ubiquity of the Times’ story.

The earlier instances of sexual assault belong on any responsible timeline. Weinstein’s undoing defamed a very specific group of movie professionals; they are part of an often-insular world that’s in an already-fragile moment. To understand how Weinstein could have obtained such authority in the film industry, it’s important to recognize that he wasn’t an anomaly but merely one of the most prominent architects of systematic dysfunction.

Some may still get away with it. In a way, it’s too bad that we learned about Knowles before Weinstein; he continues to use his Twitter feed to fuel traffic to the site, never apologized for his behavior, and the various prominent filmmakers that curried his favor have yet to publicly disavow his behavior. It’s hard to imagine that would happen if his story broke a month later; today, people and companies don’t hesitate to cut any and all ties in the most transparent ways possible. Even as the worst villains are called out, it’s all too easy to ignore the misdeeds hiding in plain sight.

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Geek Girls vs. the Boys’ Club: How Arthouse Scandals Are Shifting the Culture

Ten years ago this month, Hadrian Belove was about to launch Cinefamily, a repertory theater that would feature weird and hard-to-find movies. He was sitting in the theater with his friend, Matt Cornell, who would handle operations. “He told me there would be groupies coming once we opened,” Cornell recalls. “He was letting me know […]

Ten years ago this month, Hadrian Belove was about to launch Cinefamily, a repertory theater that would feature weird and hard-to-find movies. He was sitting in the theater with his friend, Matt Cornell, who would handle operations. “He told me there would be groupies coming once we opened,” Cornell recalls. “He was letting me know […]

Read This: The sexual assault charges that brought down Cinefamily, L.A.’s coolest movie theater

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been following the controversy surrounding the Alamo Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest after revelations about the re-hiring of ousted film critic Devin Faraci at the company. But the Drafthouse isn’t the only movie theater currently facing hard truths about sexual harassment and rape…

Read more…

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been following the controversy surrounding the Alamo Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest after revelations about the re-hiring of ousted film critic Devin Faraci at the company. But the Drafthouse isn’t the only movie theater currently facing hard truths about sexual harassment and rape…

Read more...

Cinefamily Temporarily Suspends All Activities In Wake Of Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Popular Los Angeles-based film venue Cinefamily has announced that it will suspend all activities following allegations of sexual harassment that led to the exit of executives Hadrian Belove and Shadie Elnashai.
In a statement released on their website and social media platforms, Cinefamily said, “Recently, claims were made alleging improper behavior by one of more members of the organization.” It continues, “The Board of Directors of The Cinefamily has no tolerance for…

Popular Los Angeles-based film venue Cinefamily has announced that it will suspend all activities following allegations of sexual harassment that led to the exit of executives Hadrian Belove and Shadie Elnashai. In a statement released on their website and social media platforms, Cinefamily said, "Recently, claims were made alleging improper behavior by one of more members of the organization.” It continues, "The Board of Directors of The Cinefamily has no tolerance for…

Cinefamily Suspends All Activities Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Los Angeles independent film venue Cinefamily will “temporarily suspend” all activities, following allegations of sexual harassment that led to two high profile exits from the organization. The suspension is intended to “allow for the investigation and necessary restructure of management and the board,” according to an announcement, which was written in a letter and posted… Read more »

Los Angeles independent film venue Cinefamily will “temporarily suspend” all activities, following allegations of sexual harassment that led to two high profile exits from the organization. The suspension is intended to “allow for the investigation and necessary restructure of management and the board,” according to an announcement, which was written in a letter and posted... Read more »

Cinefamily Suspends All Activities Following Sexual Harassment Charges

The board for the arthouse theater has also hired an independent investigator to look into “any alleged impropriety.”

Following the resignations of executive director Hadrian Belove and board member and Shadie Elnashai, Cinefamily has closed, temporarily suspending “all Cinefamily activities in order to allow for the investigation and necessary restructure of management and the board.”

The Cinefamily board asked for the resignations last week after an anonymous email circulated claiming that Belove “has been accused of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse by former employees and volunteers” and accused Elnashai of “raping multiple women, all verbally threatened and scared into silence after the assaults.”

The Cinefamily announcement, which is posted prominently on its site and social media, also said it has “engaged an independent third party, Giles Miller at Lynx Insights & Investigations, to conduct a thorough investigation into any alleged impropriety.”

The letter, which is signed by “The Board of The Cinefamily,“ added: “We want to reassure our members and staff that The Board will take all steps available to us to restore their faith in The Cinefamily.”

Shortly after the resignations of Belove and Elnashai, Women of Cinefamily co-founder Brie Larson posted her own statement calling for further investigation into the allegations. A source close to both Larson and her co-founder, Alia Penner, said that they planned to step back from involvement with the organization for the foreseeable future.

Cinefamily – also known as the historic Silent Movie Theater – was co-founded 10 years ago by brothers Dan and Sammy Harkham along with former Cinefile Video founder Belove. It become one of the most popular independent theaters in Los Angeles. The venue is known for its programming of first-run features from boutique distributors in addition to wide-ranging retrospective programming.

The theater’s current screening was Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “Endless Poetry.” Repertory series The History of the Midnight (July 27-Sept.1) and The Zanzibar Films (Aug. 19-31) have canceled the remainder of their shows.

Brie Larson, Women of Cinefamily Co-Founder, Calls for ‘Further Action’ on Sexual Harassment Charges

The actress is stepping aside from her role with the organization for the foreseeable future.

In the wake of sexual harassment allegations against staffers at Los Angeles independent theater Cinefamily, actress Brie Larson has commented on the dramatic events at the institution where she co-founded the Women of Cinefamily collective.

Larson and Alia Penner co-founded the Women of Cinefamily group in 2014. A source close to both women said that they were planning to step back from involvement with the organization for the foreseeable future.

“The allegations at Cinefamily are upsetting to me personally, both as an advocate for sexual assault survivors and a member of the community,” Larson said, in a statement posted to her Twitter feed. “Firstly, I would like to thank the brave survivors who spoke up — I believe you. The responsibility of handling allegations of this nature should never fall on the assaulted. Cinefamily prides itself on being a space of safety and communion – it is time for further action to ensure that.”

The group is described on its social media pages as “a collective of women filmmakers and film lovers brought together to network, discuss and enjoy great movies and what they inspire.”

As IndieWire reported yesterday, the Cinefamily debacle became public this week when an email circulated alleging sexual harassment charges against co-founder Hadrian Belove and board Vice President Shadie Elnashai. Both men resigned from their positions. The email included excerpts from a 2014 lawsuit filed against Belove and Cinefamily by a former employee that cited sexual harassment as well as work-rule violations. That case was settled out of court.

Larson made headlines in February, when she presented the best actor Oscar to Casey Affleck and declined to applaud after announcing his name.

As Joss Whedon and Others Are Confronted By Their Treatment Of Women, Fandom Is Evolving to Listen

Whedonesque goes dark, Tig Notaro takes on Louis C.K., and the beloved Cinefamily is under fire. How fan culture feeds bad behavior — and has the power to starve it.

As stories of sexual abuse and assault by well-known men grow more commonplace, a refrain has emerged, one that might sound like a plea: Listen to women. Believe women. Even when they speak out against someone that might be considered a genius or hero, don’t ignore their stories.

This week, “listen to women” became a roar. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon’s ex-wife Kai Cole wrote frankly from her perspective about Whedon being a “fake feminist” and the years he allegedly spent cheating on her. Tig Notaro, in promoting the new season of her Amazon series “One Mississippi,” spoke out regarding sexual harrassment allegations made against Louis C.K.,who also serves as the show’s executive producer.

And after an anonymous letter went to hundreds of people in the indie film industry, accusing those who run Los Angeles-based nonprofit film society Cinefamily of enabling an atmosphere of abuse and suppressing reports of assault, executive director Hadrian Belove and board vice president Shadie Elnashai resigned.

Like so many of these sorts of stories, even when there are specific details there’s a lack of hard truths. This isn’t a matter of he said/she said; the words have been spoken, and there’s no taking them back. But then comes the question of why things went so long, why so often it takes years for the truth of a situation to become known.

Since the glory days of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Joss Whedon was never “just” a showrunner. He infused his work with a personal flair that made fans feel like they knew him, creating a literal cult of personality that kept audiences following him from project to project. To enjoy Joss Whedon’s work wasn’t a matter of liking one of his TV shows; it meant engaging with a whole ethos, drifting into a world of great dialogue, quirky characters, and great storytelling that invoked metaphor.

As sins go, cheating on your wife is reprehensible but it’s not the more serious allegation. Cole quotes her ex-husband as saying that his affairs were with “‘beautiful, needy, aggressive young women. It felt like I had a disease, like something from a Greek myth. Suddenly I am a powerful producer and the world is laid out at my feet and I can’t touch it.’ But he did touch it…”

That’s a direct contradiction to the Whedon mystique. Even when he directed billion-dollar blockbusters, he was known as a fellow nerd, a status that conferred the respect of the underdog. (There’s a memorable line in the Season 7 premiere of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” as Buffy trains her little sister to fight the forces of darkness: “It’s about power – who’s got it, who knows how to use it.”)

After the publication of Cole’s post, there was an immediate effect upon the Whedon fandom. As of this week, the 15-year-old fan site Whedonesque is shutting down — not specifically as a response to Cole’s post. Site founder Caroline, in comments posted on the site’s final post, mentioned a number of reasons for cutting bait. She also suggested that fans wishing to remember the site donate to organizations which treat complex post-traumatic stress disorder. (In Cole’s post, she said she suffers from that condition.)

While Whedonesque had no official connection to Whedon’s shows, it also covered programs created by those who worked in Whedon’s orbit like producer Marti Noxon (“UnREAL,” “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce”) and David Fury (“The Tick”).

Louis C.K. also has a comedy auteur’s reputation, one he’s used to support other comedians — including Notaro, whose legendary 2012 stand-up show at the Largo, “Live,” was first released through his independent label. For years, C.K. has also been at the center of rumors regarding “sexual misconduct,” which Notaro told the Daily Beast he needed to handle. “I think it’s important to take care of that, to handle that, because it’s serious to be assaulted,” Notaro says. “It’s serious to be harassed. It’s serious, it’s serious, it’s serious.”

Season 2 of “One Mississippi,” which premieres on Amazon this September, reportedly includes a scene that echoes past allegations made against C.K. — though it more generally seems to represent a pattern of sexual harassment that women far too often explain away.

“And that’s what we want to do with this show,” Notaro said to the Daily Beast. “We of course want to create comedy, but we also really, really feel like we have the opportunity to do something with ‘One Mississippi,’ because it does not stop. I walk around doing shows at comedy clubs and you just hear from people left and right of what some big-shot comedian or person has done. People just excuse it.”

It’s a story that echoes Bill Cosby’s; the first substantial reports of his now well-documented history of drugging and assaulting women stretches back more than a decade. “Dr. Huxtable & Mr. Hyde,” a substantial Philadelphia magazine profile by Robert Huber on the subject, was published in 2006. No one wanted to believe a beloved comedy figure like Cosby could be capable of those actions, and the truth was eventually revealed to be far beyond what we understood.

Meanwhile, the fans who loved attending Cinefamily screenings at the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles have to contend with the fact that an institution built around a love of film had some dark shadows behind the scenes. On August 22, the Cinefamily board asked for, and accepted, the resignations of executive director Hadrian Belove and board vice president Shadie Elnashai after an anonymous email accused Belove of sexual harassment, and Elnashai of rape. As one former Cinefamily employee told IndieWire August 23, “I never let myself be alone in a room with Shadie or Hadrian. They were those kind of people at Cinefamily.”

No matter the source, fandom is a cultural experience built on love. It represents people coming together to create a community around common interests; it can create something truly special and powerful.

However, the cultural experience can also take on more cult-like aspects — and the resulting power imbalances can enable the worst behavior. But with each unpleasant story, a new fandom is emerging: That of women no longer being willing to be silent about the way they’ve been treated, who love themselves and each other enough to stand up and say so.

Dana Harris contributed to this report.

Hadrian Belove Resigns From Cinefamily After Anonymous Email Alleges Sexual Harassment

The anonymous email circulated to hundreds of members of the film community this week.

Hadrian Belove has resigned as executive director of Cinefamily, the independent Los Angeles-based theater he co-founded in 2007, after an anonymous email circulated this week detailing sexual harassment allegations against him and the Cinefamily board.

The anonymous email, which went to hundreds of members of the independent film community and the media, said Belove “has been accused of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse by former employees and volunteers. It is a deep seated behavior pattern that many in the community are already aware of.”

The email included excerpts from a 2014 lawsuit filed against Belove and Cinefamily by a former employee that cited sexual harassment as well as work-rule violations. That case was settled out of court.

In addition to Belove, the Cinefamily board accepted the resignation of board vice president Shadie Elnashai, whom the email accused of “raping multiple women, all verbally threatened and scared into silence after the assaults.”

Cinefamily – also known as the historic Silent Movie Theater – was co-founded 10 years ago by brothers Dan and Sammy Harkham along with former Cinefile Video founder Belove. It has blossomed into one of the most popular independent theaters in Los Angeles. The venue is known for its programming of first-run features from boutique distributors in addition to wide-ranging retrospective programming.

Cinefamily issued the following statement in response to the allegations. Belove, whose name has already been removed from Cinefamily’s website, posted his own statement on Facebook. That statement is also included below, in addition to the email sent out today.

From Cinefamily:

Recently an email has been circulating which makes dark and disturbing claims about the Cinefamily.  These allegations are deeply troubling. We take all claims incredibly seriously and want all members of our community to feel safe. If anyone has experienced verbal or physical harassment, we encourage them to report it to us at SpeakUp@Cinefamily.org, or to contact the LAPD. We have been coordinating with Officer Russel Hess of the Wilshire Precinct. He can be reached by calling (213) 473-0476.

Our non-profit organization has zero tolerance for any action intended to harm or injure our staff, volunteers, or patrons. Any claims made are dealt with swiftly and directly, with respect and moral integrity. In the two years since the appointment of our Executive Managing Director, Trevor Jones, we have received one harassment claim. That claim was of a non-violent nature, and was investigated thoroughly. We immediately reviewed the procedures in place for reporting claims, and emphasized our absolute commitment to protect any victim of harassment, including the creation of new roles within the organization to foster open channels of communication. Action was taken in response to the claim to the satisfaction of the claimant. We also instituted an annual harassment in the workplace seminar hosted by Ogletree Deakins, a firm specializing in employment law.

Our staff and volunteers are hardworking, dedicated individuals, devoted to building a welcoming and inclusive environment–one that is defined by mutual respect and shared passion for film culture. Now, more than ever, we are actively working to fulfill our responsibility to you–our patrons, members, community, and city. It is a privilege to do so.

In light of recent events, Shadie Elnashai has resigned from Cinefamily’s Board of Directors and Hadrian Belove has resigned as the Executive Creative Director of Cinefamily.

The Cinefamily

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